On a yearly basis billions of euros are donated to charity. This is done in all forms, i.e. from companies or individuals sponsoring charity events, to buying items of charity organizations all the way to the most easy form of donating directly
money via a credit transfer or direct debit.
Although this results in enormous money transfers, the customer experience for most of those donations is not that great and far from frictionless. As all eCommerce players know a frictionless user journey and especially
a frictionless check out procedure is critical to reduce the rate of abandoned shopping carts. This is no different when donating money, i.e. a good user experience means that people will not abandon their donation and will be more inclined to do again a donation
in the future.
This blog gives a description of different forms of online donation (so excluding any physical events or physical sales) and identifies a number of opportunities for improvement.
Donating can be done in many ways. The most common is obviously a simple Credit Transfer to the account number of the charity organization. This can be a one-time operation or recurring via an automatic transfer operation. It is also possible to work with
a Direct Debit, where the charity organization will collect itself a pre-defined amount from the donator’s bank account on a recurring basis. This creates a bigger lock-in of the donator and makes the donation easier, but on the other hand the donator is less
But next to this classical form, there are also other options like:
Donating an amount as part of an online purchase. For example many airline companies allow you to neutralize your carbon footprint, by paying a small extra amount, which is used for projects to reduce carbon (e.g. for forestation projects)
Initiatives where the merchant automatically donates a percentage of the amount spent. This can be managed by the merchant itself (e.g. many platform have campaigns that they donate a small amount for every purchase), but centralized platforms
exist as well, like e.g. Trooper in Belgium.
Donating on behalf of someone else, like e.g. a donation as a gift to a family member or friend in context of a birth, wedding, funeral or birthday. E.g. many people replace their wedding list or birth list by a donation campaign, where
everyone can donate for a charity cause on behalf of the person marrying or the new-born child.
Accumulated (loyalty or reward) points, which can be converted into charity. E.g. at one of my previous employers, every employee received a number of points, he could reward to other employees doing exceptional work. This employee could
spend the points on a personal gift, but could also convert the points into a charity donation.
Micro-donations, e.g. many banks offer the possibility to waive very small amounts of remaining securities (e.g. small positions resulting from a corporate action), which would probably cost more in commission to sell than the actual value.
As the bank is able to aggregate all waived securities from different customers, this can accumulate to a total considerable amount. Other banks offer the possibility to round up all payment transactions to the next unit and give these rounding differences
Crowdfunding platforms, like GoFundMe, Fundly, Bonfire, Giveffect, Snowball, Kentaa, Givengain… These platforms allow to finance a concrete good cause (i.e. project or objective) by collecting small amounts of a large group of people. The
clearly defined goal and the ability to show the real-time evolution towards the goal, inspires people to donate.
Include charity in your testament (e.g. https://www.testament.be). This practice is being used more and more, as in some cases, it can give very interesting tax advantages, but obviously people need
to be aware of the option and the user journey should be made as frictionless as possible.
Donation marketplaces, which give an overview of multiple charity organizations and facilitate the journey of donating. Often such platforms offer also options like contributing to a "collection of charity causes". This way your small contribution
is distributed over a group of different charity causes. Additionally many of those platforms also make rankings on the effectiveness of each charity cause, allowing for donators to compare different charity causes (e.g. GiveWell, EffectiveAltruism, Giving
What We Can, Goedgeven.be…)
Converting vouchers to charity. Often vouchers (like gift vouchers) expire and are not used. It can be a win-win to donate those unused vouchers (which have not expired yet) to a charity, which could then convert the vouchers to actual money,
by either auctioning them, via an agreement with the voucher issuer (partially) reimbursing the vouchers or by actually using them to support less-fortunate people.
In order to make a charity platform successful, there are number of important points to consider:
Use gamification, i.e. use game-elements (see my blog TO BE COMPLETED) to make donating more enjoyable. This can be by defining clear objectives/goals (make the objective as tangible as possible, e.g. Unicef contribution for a specific amount
corresponding with a meal for 10 children, a goat for family…), visualizing the progress of reaching the goal, working with levels, points and score boards for rewarding donators…
Communicate with your donators, e.g. send reminders when it has been a while that no donation has been received, explain for what their specific contribution was used for (make it tangible), confirm when a donation was correctly received,
communicate when someone makes a donation on behalf of you… Obviously donators should be able to configure their communication preferences, like which information and in which form they want to receive.
Also be transparent on the effectiveness of the charity. Almost all charities have a positive impact, but obviously the amount of positive impact differs very strongly from one charity cause to the other. Donators are therefore very sensitive to get a feeling
of the effectiveness of their donation. This can mainly be achieved by communicating on the usage of the money (transparency), by rigorous monitoring and evaluation and by communicating on all different benefits the charity cause generates (e.g. job creation,
local economic growth, social benefits, environmental improvements…).
Allow to easily extract data of all your past contributions, but also of all details of people who did a contribution in your name. It should also be possible to easily receive or download your annual tax deduction forms.
Engage your donators to promote the charity cause (i.e. turn funders into promoters), i.e. push them to share stories on social media or to send personal messages to their contacts to also do a contribution, setup a member get member initiative,
allow them to setup their own peer-to-peer fundraising campaign (e.g. in context of a birthday, birth, marriage…)… Obviously the donator should be assisted as much as possible by the platform to make the effort minimal for him or her. E.g. by selecting the
target audience and allow to easily setup a nice message/campaign, then automatically sending out the campaign (via mail, SMS, social media…), be able to track the results of the campaign and be able to thank easily people who have contributed.
Make donating as frictionless as possible, which means making one one-time donations as much as a one-click action (with support of different payment methods like credit card, debit card, Paypal…), but also to setup online Direct Debit
mandates with easy possibility to adapt the recurring donated amount.
Give back to donators, e.g. allow them to choose a product or service offered by sponsors, share personalized thank you messages on social media to your donators (which the donator can share with friends), involve them in certain decisions,
e.g. give them voting rights for strategic decisions or less formal but more fun decisions, like choosing a name for certain initiatives/products/services… A good example is becoming a godfather/godmother of an animal in a zoo and being recognized by a small
sign in the zoo but also allowing you to choose name of the animal.
Clearly the current experience for donating is not great. With banks becoming more and more sensitive to SRI-banking, it can be a great opportunity for banks to setup a charity platform or at least incorporate certain features in their Online & Mobile banking.
This can help a lot in better positioning the bank as a sustainable, ethical and ecological actor.